Tales from the Apocalypse (2023) Review
Dispensing with a wraparound segment or even an introduction, the new anthology film Tales from the Apocalypse, originally titled Episodes from Apocalypse, launches straight into its first segment, “Alone”, directed by William Hellmuth (Valley of Mist, The Black Dawn) from a script by J. Scott Worthington.
It’s the story of Kaya Torres (Steph Barkley, Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge, The Canyonlands) who barely escaped the destruction of her spacecraft. Alone in her escape pod and circling a black hole, she makes contact with Hammer (Thomas Wilson Brown, Last Three Days, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) a cartographer marooned on a deserted planet.
Set almost entirely within Kaya’s escape pod with just her on-screen and Hammer’s voice it’s a solid tale of loneliness and the importance of having someone there for you.
Up next is “Cradle” from director Damon Duncan who’s probably best known for his FX work on M3GAN and screenwriter Hugh D’Calveley. Eade (Jacqueline Joe, Power Rangers Dino Fury, Mystic) is a 14 year old girl who has spent most of her life in space. On their way back to Earth a malfunction damaged the ship and left her father (Matthew Sunderland, Pearl, Bloody Hell) in a coma.
The plot follows Eade’s efforts to override the computer, voiced by Rachel House (Perfect Creature, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and have it perform the necessary surgery on her father. But what she may learn once she gets inside the system will be literally life-changing.
“Lunatique”, the third segment of Tales from the Apocalypse is actually the first story to actually deal with the apocalypse. A young woman (Lila Guimarães, Bingo: The King of the Mornings, The Heart in my Mouth) who may be the last surviving human ventures out into the creature infested city.
Shot in black and white by writer/director Gabriel Kalim Mucci (Wasteland 3: Bison’s Meat Delivery, The Moons) this segment looks great but has no real substance, think of it as a condensed version of I Am Legend.
“New Mars” by Susie Jones (Bird Lady) is up next. After destroying Earth humans have colonized Mars, living underground as they terraform it. It’s a society devoted to logic and science, trying to avoid humanity’s irrationalities and destructive traits. But, as Apollo 1 (Ray Ashcroft, The Bill, Emmerdale Farm) and Venus 5 (Laura Dixon, Hello Au Revoir) find out, some things are stronger than science.
A decent treatment of the emotionless society trope, this gets Tales from the Apocalypse back on track, even though the ending may have you rolling your eyes.
Our final story for the evening, Lin Sun’s “AI-pocalypse” is the story of Sonia (Jiao Xu, The Legend Is Born: Ip Man, Future X-Cops), an AI that’s sent into the fourth dimension to save humanity. But a meeting there with Dr. Stephen (John Henry Richardson, Sniper: Special Ops, The Cursed Man) the scientist who created her changes everything.
Despite the involvement of AI, “AI-pocalypse” is more about philosophy than science. It’s beautiful to look at as well as thought provoking.
Four of the five segments that make up Tales from the Apocalypse are good, the fifth isn’t bad, it’s just rather pointless. The problem is they lack a common theme, despite the title they aren’t even all about the end of the world. Without a wraparound, it’s disjointed and feels like what it is, a group of random sci-fi shorts slapped together and called an anthology rather than the real thing.
The lack of cohesion doesn’t ruin the film, the segments that make up Tales from the Apocalypse are worth seeing. But there’s also not much reason not to just look the shorts up on YouTube either.